Beyond Day Six
My sometimes-daily blog of a photograph or two with a few words, celebrating all the days of life that flow through creation into perspiration, inspiration, reflection, sabbath, and resurrection.
Okay, this is ridiculous! 1 of three photos taken with iPhone 12 Pro Max. Initially, I did not think I managed to include the wasp that happened to fly by the trumpet vine blossoms, but there it is! The previous owner planted trumpet vine along the fence between the pool and the end of the driveway, two varieties: orange and yellow. While it provides lots of privacy, the trumpet vines have not been a popular part of our garden with Judy and me. Trumpet vine spreads. Shoots come up between the boards of our deck, easily 15 feet away. I am uncertain whether at this point we would even be able to get rid of it. Did I say that it spreads?
Like so much else that can't be controlled: grace, love, compassion, generosity, understanding, peace. They all spread.
Rough three days! I felt absolutely miserable, even wondering if this feeling would ever end. But Thursday morning was different, and I became aware that I had more energy as the day progressed. Maddy came over at noon to celebrate her 15th birthday (a week delayed) with pizza, neapolitan ice cream and cake. I ate it all. And managed some pool time later in the afternoon. I believe that the prednisone helps me during the first week after chemo, but it would certainly have helped the second week, but I didn't ask. Now I'm done and I will have another 10 days or so of regaining energy before seeing my trio of doctors during the last few days of June who are guiding me to wellness. Today, I'm glad to be among the living.
It's funny how quickly I seize on good news! Dr. Jones told me Monday morning that I would only receive three weeks of daily radiation instead of the six weeks I had been expecting. Yes, well, only four months ago I didn't know I had Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma and it became good news that I would only require four chemotherapy treatments instead of six, and now the good news of only three weeks of radiation. It is good news that my cancer was diagnosed early and that my body is responding to the treatment. But these past three months have been physically and emotionally challenging. I do anticipate that the radiation will be physically easier. Today, however, was a significant day of fatigue. My white blood count was only 1.7 and the neutrophils were 0.7, very low. So, I remain quite vulnerable to common infections and need to limit my physical interactions with others. But the good news is that long before summer ends my treatments for this lymphoma will be complete!
We have a few jokes in our daylily collection. This is one of them: "Tipsy Parson". We've got a few others that have names that bring a smile to my face. I thought I would include this photo today and why it's significant to me.
I have begun to think about what happens after cancer treatment is complete, and how I can help myself return to fitness and health. Some of the answers are obvious: exercise, healthy eating, no smoking (never a problem), regular check-ups, adequate sleep (will be a challenge), refrain from alcohol (again not much of a problem, hence the photo of Tipsy Parson). There were recommendations for emotional and spiritual support as well. I found an excellent resource from www.cancer.gov "Life After Treatment."
I did swim 4 times in the pool on Sunday with the longest duration being 10 laps (800 feet) with a total for the day of 2,000 feet. I didn't set any speed records, but that is quite an achievement in less than a week after my final chemotherapy treatment.
I do meet with the radiation oncologist today for a consultation about the process going forward. I anticipate that my treatment will be complete before my granddaughter returns to school for her sophomore year. It feels so good to have these three months behind me. Not tipsy at all!
I shared this photo some years ago, but it represents something different this time.
Renewal. As good as new. Durable. Fixed. Repaired. Good for another 20 years.
Chemo made me feel old. Swimming makes me feel young.
Looking in the mirror is someone I don't recognize. But laughing fills me with hope.
This looks fixed for the long term.
Data: numbers, words, pictures, who knows what kinds of information can be digitized and stored?
I'm aware that my diagnosis and treatment has been recorded with a plethora of data. All to be tracked in my medical history. And of course, billed for payment.
Yesterday, I did find energy to record some data, words to add to images that I have created recently. I use several photo-processing programs but have used Adobe's Lightroom program since it first was introduced. The Lightroom catalog notes that I have 113,296 images accessible on my desktop computer that are stored on several internal and external drives. And all the images haves lots of date attached to them, including the camera used, the date, the lens used, the settings of the shutter and f/stop, the iso (film speed in the old vernacular). Plus I have added words that will help me find common subjects or places or other identification.
So, the data reveals that I have 331 images of Siloam Double Classic daylily. This is probably not the best of all of those photos, just the last one captured yesterday. It's obvious that I don't need that many pictures of this one flower.
Years ago, a friend asked, what are you going to do with all of these pictures that you have in shoe boxes and slide trays?
Indeed. If only knew how extensive it has become. I still don't know what I am going to do with all of these.
Among the daylilies that were blooming for the first time on the morning after my final chemotherapy treatment was "Escape to Paradise", pictured below. Judy and I tease each other that the Hideaway, our name for our home, seems like Paradise to us. We waited until retirement, like many of our pastor friends, to buy our very first house. So at the age of 63 we got a 30 year mortgage. And began making house payments on our own home for the first time. This house is amazing to us, more than we ever expected. And we yearn to have guests again, and want to share our paradise with our family and friends. In just a few weeks, my fatigue and vulnerability to infection will be past. The daylilies will be nearing peak season (which means the bulk of them will have begun to bloom), and the pool will be warm. Paradise!
Wearing my 25 year old sailboat shirt, (I just couldn't part with it when I was thinning out my closet a few years ago before CCC), I had to have a selfie as I neared the end of chemo. I still have a dose of Neulasta tomorrow and Prednisone all this week, and 2-3 weeks of fatigue, but I am done with chemotherapy treatments. I have a PET scan on June 28 and a consult with Dr. Thompson that afternoon to discover the results. I will get a referral for radiation and likely begin the daily treatments in July. Three months ago, I first heard my diagnosis of Diffuse Large B Lymphoma. Scary. But I have a great doctor and a wonderful medical team who have helped with this part of the healing journey. In another three months, I will be well on the way to recovery. I will still meet with Dr. Thompson on a regular schedule as he monitors my "durable remission."
That's why I am smiling. Stephen Hawking wrote, "Half the battle is showing up!" There are myriad similar quotes but I am inspired more by a man with enormous physical challenges who succeeded beyond anyone's imagination.
Not my best picture. Cherish it because there aren't a lot of pictures of me floating around the internet!
Twenty-two different varieties of daylilies blooming this morning and my fourth and final chemotherapy treatment. Both good numbers!
After two days of depression, this day has already began as a blessing!
I was awake early Friday morning. My feet and hands were especially numb the night before. The soles of my feet and the bottoms of my toes were numb. The palms of my hands, my fingers, were numb. I was worried. During the past two weeks, the numbness had seemed to build and ebb. It was challenging to determine whether it was better or worse. I couldn't sleep at 3 a.m. I went roaming on the internet.
Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy is a side effect of vincristine, one of the drugs used to fight lymphoma. It may go away after treatment, and it may not. It could get worse. After treatment, the neuropathy may take several months to subside. If it doesn't get any worse than the current level of numbness, I can deal with it. Yes, it's better than cancer. But, oh my.
I did swim Friday in my cool pool. I was numb all over, but that felt good to swim from one end to the other and back again. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. I couldn't tell that my fingers were numb, nor that I have cancer. Some victories take time.
« Older Posts
© Day Six Pix, The Photography of John Hartleroad